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Parents and staff react to school board striking holocaust biography from curriculum

McMinn County School Board voted unanimously to strip the historical illustrated novel ‘Maus’ from the 8th grade ELA curriculum.
The board in a Facebook post cited Thursday that the decision was made because the content was too adult-oriented for use in McMinn County Schools.
Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 12:04 AM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - On January 10, in a called meeting of the McMinn Co. School Board, the board voted unanimously to strip the historical holocaust novel “Maus” from the districts eighth-grade English and Language Arts Curriculum.

The board in a Facebook post cited Thursday that the decision was made because the content was too adult-oriented for use in McMinn County Schools.

McMinn County Board of Education Statement

Posted by McMinn County Schools, Tennessee on Thursday, January 27, 2022

Parents, graduates, and grandparents were reacting to the board’s decision both in support and against.

”I don’t think with my daughter inside, that is something we should pull from these history books or even a reading curriculum,” said James Cockrum, a McMinn Co. Central graduate.

Those who disagree with the board’s decision worry keeping the book from being accessible to students is harming the teachings of what happened in the holocaust.

”This is a documentary, this is a man’s life, this is his story, this is true and if we start to censor truths then those critical information avenues are taken away from us,” said Cynthia Webb McCowan, a grandparent of a McMinn County eighth-grader.

“Maus” is written and illustrated by Art Spiegelman.

The story is told through Jewish people depicted as mice and Nazis depicted as cats.

According to the minutes, “Maus,” was used as eighth-grade reading material ‘because of the content and the deeper meaning of what is going on in the book.’

The McMinn Co. Board of Education removed the book from the curriculum because of eight bad words and one depiction of a naked mouse, supposed to be inferred as a woman.

”I don’t think they need to be exposed to it if they don’t have to be exposed to it,” said Alex Thomason, a supporter of the board’s decision.

Many who support the board argue that the content is too graphic for students, especially as impressionable as eighth-graders, and should be saved for high-schoolers, or possibly even college reading material.

Additionally, those who back the 10 board members said they weren’t arguing to cut the Holocaust from the curriculum, but rather the graphic nature of “Maus” to be held from young eyes.

”It does need to be in schools you can teach it without like I said the profanity and all that,” said Thomason.

The district added they plan to add a new book to the module in place of ‘Maus” and have directed the administration to start that process.

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